Corporate social responsibility:
a psychosocial multidimensional
Gianvito D’Aprile and Terri Mannarini
Department of Education, Universita
del Salento, Lecce, Italy
Purpose – Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is conceptualized as the construct describing the
relationship between companies and society. Although scholars reached an agreement about the
linkages between CSR in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and psychosocial issues – social
identity, organizational culture and commitment – it is still a problematic issue how CSR should be
deﬁned and how companies could behave as socially responsible. The authors hypothesize that
psychosocial processes impact the activation of CSR. Within a psychological perspective, the purpose
of this paper is to explore CSR deﬁnitions and CSR psychosocial dimensions.
Design/methodology/approach – According to an emic perspective oriented at in-depth
comprehension of phenomena, the authors adopted the grounded theory methodology to collect,
analyze and discuss the data. In total, 14 entrepreneurs and 12 employees of Italian-Apulian SMEs
were interviewed on three thematic areas: organizational culture; sense of community; and CSR.
Interviews were transcribed and analyzed through qualitative content analysis.
Findings – Results showed that: CSR deﬁnitions were continuously mediated by participants’
organizational culture; and perspective taking, care taking and sustainable practices emerged as the
salient CSR psychosocial components, correspondent to its cognitive, affective and behavioral
Practical implications – The paper argues that CSR psychosocial components could be the
strategic variables to develop and to manage CSR in organizations.
Originality/value – CSR is re-conceptualized as a psychosocial multidimensional construct,
explaining its dynamic activation in organizations. The authors suggest that the cognitive and
affective dimensions are antecedent to the behavioral dimension. Thus, the authors are developing a
CSR psychosocial scale to study the linkages among these dimensions and other variables through
quantitative analysis method.
Keywords Italy, Small to medium-sized enterprises, Organizational culture,
Corporate social responsibility, Social identity, Qualitative methodology, Content analysis
Paper type Research paper
Nowadays, companies are facing important challenges due to the economic crisis. On a
wide range of issues, they are encouraged to behave in a manner that is sustainable
and socially responsible (Bansal, 2005; Engle, 2006; Welford and Frost, 2006).
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is considered a strategic, key behavior for
companies’ economic, social and environmental development. To overcome critical
challenges, companies have to rethink their role in society and consider themselves as
socio-economic agents contributing to the human, civic and social progress of the
community as a whole. Consequently, both economic and socio-ethical dimensions
seem to be strictly interrelated, orienting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
toward sustainable development (Commission of the European Communities, 2001).
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Journal of Global Responsibility
Vol. 3 No. 1, 2012
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited